Sunday Night Ramblings: After a binge of Giller Prize short-listed books, what next?

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The past two weeks featured reading focused in the Giller Prize short list. I managed to read Lisa Moore’s Caught and Dennis Bock’s Going Home Again because the final gala and I finished Craig Davidson’s Cataract City the week after. I did buy the rest of the short list, but it is actually my husband’s Christmas present so I will have to be a bit patient and give him a chance to read Lynn Coady and Dan Vyleta before I can get my hands on those books. And don’t worry, he does not read my blog so it’s unlikely he will find out.

As I was travelling last week and had to endure some business-travel-related boredom and need to escape, I bought the lastest Robin Cook novel, Nano. I thought that might worth a read, an exciting mystery featuring cutting-edge technology… except I have read way too much of that genre in my life and I really did not find anything new in this book. In fact, much of the plot and characters seemed like a transposition of Coma, the book that contributed to putting Robin Cook on the map. While I added some words to my vocabulary, such as microbivores and respirocytes, the weak plot and even weaker characters (the womanizing boss!) were really disappointing. This does not mean I will never ever buy another Robin Cook every again… but it might take a while.

One author I have not read much is Tom Clancy. Given he died recently, his name has come back to my attention. I did love The Hunt for Red October and I remember reading some of it on a quiet day when I was temping for an air-conditioning company back when I was eighteen. I do have a question though: Do you have to read the Jack Ryan novels in order and can one start with the lastest novel published in 2012? The nerd in me says “better read in the right order”…

In any case, I did go back this weekend to the novel I was reading before the Giller called for my attention. So my head is back in Estonia with Sofi Oksanen and Lorsque les colombes disparurent. The question that comes to me right now, as I am writing, is why the title talks about doves (“colombes” means doves) when the German officers keep eating pigeons in fancy restaurants in Tallin. Maybe it’s because the doves have all gone… literally as birds and source of food, as well as symbols of peace. This book is certainly fascinating, with its exploration of the intricacies of life under successive totalitarian regimes and the struggles to survive of ordinary citizens, resistance fighters and collaborators.

I was also in the middle of P.O. Enquist’s Hess, about Rudolf Hess, which fits in nicely thematically with the Sofi Oksanen book. But there are some many more interesting books awaiting me on the shelves, in addition to work-related books about learning, leadership, change management and diversity… My, oh my, so much choice…

And the Montreal book fair will be on this week and I plan to go at least on Friday, but who knows… I might end up spending some of next weekend there as well.

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